KEY POINTS

  • Gilbert Postelle and Donald Grant prefer the firing squad as it allows for quicker death, one of their attorneys said
  • The botched execution of John Marion Grant triggered debate about the lethal injection’s constitutionality
  • Oklahoma is among four states in the U.S. allowing for death by firing squad as an alternative

Two death row inmates in Oklahoma who are facing executions in January and February would rather die in the hands of a firing squad than undergo the three-drug lethal injection laid out for death row inmates in the state, one of their attorneys has said. The news follows the recent stay of execution granted to another Oklahoma death row inmate who also has refused to die by lethal injection.

Attorney Jim Stronski told U.S. District Judge Stephen Friot in court Monday that while dying through a firing squad “may be gruesome to look at, we all agree it will be quicker,” Associated Press reported. Inmates Gilbert Postelle and Donald Grant are requesting that their executions be delayed while waiting for a Feb. 28 trial that should decide whether the state’s three-drug lethal injection death method is constitutional.

Grant is scheduled for execution Jan. 27, while Postelle is set to be put to death Feb. 17. If proven that the lethal injection method is unconstitutional, Grant and Postelle would be the first death row inmates in Oklahoma to die using a firing squad.

While Friot did not make a decision on the request of a temporary injunction to delay the executions, the judge is expected to issue an order at the end of the week.

During Monday’s hearing, emergency medicine specialist Dr. James Williams testified that four high-powered rifles used to shoot the “cardiac bundle” of the heart will allow for a quick death that will mean no pain for the inmate.

The case of allowing inmates to choose the method to be used during their executions has been widely debated since the botched execution of John Marion Grant in November, wherein Grant died as he went through a series of convulsions and vomited during the process. 

Just before Christmas eve, Friot ordered a temporary stoppage to Oklahoma death row inmate James Coddington’s execution.

As per Friot’s order, Coddington is allowed to the movement that challenges the constitutionality of the state’s lethal injection protocol, particularly the aspect of including midazolam, which was among the drugs used in the controversial execution of John Marion Grant. Friot has said that Coddington, like Gilbert Postelle and Donald Grant, would like his execution protocol to be the firing squad, The Hill reported. Coddington’s death penalty is scheduled for March.

Oklahoma is among four states in the country authorizing the firing squad as an alternative against the lethal injection method, the others being South Carolina, Mississippi, and Utah. Within the last 50 years, only four executions have been administered by firing squad in the United States, and all of them were in Utah.

lethal injection This undated photo shows the death chamber at the Georgia Diagnostic Prison in Jackson. Nathaniel Woods was executed in Alabama on Thursday evening, triggering an outpouring of anger on social media among activists and supporters. Photo: Getty Images